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A dentist’s trick to avoiding bad breath

By Dr. Mike Heffernan and Dr. Toby Edwards-Lunn

You’re on the train on your way to a meeting; it’s an important one. What’s on your mind? “I’ve remembered my presentation, I look smart, but my mouth feels dry. It must be the nerves. Did that lady sitting opposite just move further away? Oh no, does my breath smell?”

I’m afraid it’s quite possible that it does, because stress and anxiety releases adrenaline into your body, which dries the mouth. So, what can you do to save your colleagues from the dreaded effects of bad breath?

Avoiding strongly flavoured food and alcohol helps, of course. However, 80 per cent of the time bad breath isn’t caused by what we're eating but rather by the bacteria found in our mouth. And this is where things get tricky, because some of the naturally occurring bacteria is beneficial to our bodies, acting as the first line of defence against harmful viruses, fungi and other bacteria. So simply blitzing the bacteria with a powerful mouthwash to ‘kill all known germs’ is not a good idea.

Instead, try our professional dentists’ seven-point plan for banishing bad breath:

1. Don't forget to floss: brushing your teeth cleans two thirds of the surface of your teeth, so clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss to reach the areas of your mouth where much of the bacteria that causes bad breath hides out.

2. Clean your tongue: use a toothbrush or tongue-scraper.

3. Try mouthwash in short bursts: choose an antibacterial one every morning over a short, two-week period, gargling it so the whole of your tongue benefits. Longer- term use can wipe out the “good” bacteria that are helpful in preventing other, bad- smelling bacteria from colonising your gums and tongue.

4. Stay well hydrated: especially first thing in the morning and after exercise.

5. Chew sugar-free gum: it stimulates the natural flow of saliva in your mouth.

6. Drink green tea: or eat herbs such as tarragon, peppermint and coriander, which helps fight against oral bacteria.

7. Visit your dentist and hygienist regularly (you knew this one was coming!): they'll check you’re not suffering from gum disease or tooth decay.

This article was originally published by The Daily Telegraph.